Sick, broody, or both? Please help me to help her.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by krista74, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone. I'll try and keep this as brief as possible. I am extremely worried about one of my hens. I've never had chickens before so I'm not sure what's normal and what's not, but I'm pretty sure this falls into the 'not normal' category. I have a RIR hen, approximately 9 months old, who has been laying for two and a half months. I am not sure if she is sick, broody or both. Please, I need your advice with what I, as an inexperienced chicken owner, can do to help her.

    Some brief info: She was previously in good health, still has clear eyes and is not sneezing or coughing. Until 2 days ago her diet was grain and scratch with the rest of the flock (6 hens, 1 cockerel), and layers pellets on the side which they did not eat at all. This was changed to 100% layers pellets 2 days ago which they seem to be eating now despite some initial hesitating. They get some vegie scraps each day and a handful of cracked corn at night. Normally she would have access to free range for 5 hours a day, and we have a well ventilated coop.

    Signs she is broody: She has plucked out every feather she had from under her neck to her vent - she is completely naked underneath. The other hens hate her - they attack as soon as she joins them, which is not usual. She is stuck to the nest box. She has fluffed her feathers out so much she looks like a porcupine. When I pick her up and place her on the ground, she won't move a muscle. She just flattens herself onto the ground and spreads her wings out. She is making a low cluck, cluck, cluck grumbly sound when I do force her outside for a break at the end of the day.

    Signs she is not broody: She will let me pat her, which is especially unusual since I have never been able to get near her before. I thought they were meant to be vicious? I can take the plastic eggs right from under her.

    Signs she may be sick: She is very thin - I can feel her breast bone, but I have no idea if that is normal or not. She has been stuck in her nest for 3 days now and today will not drink this morning even though I put the water in front of her (She did eat a little but not much). She has not pooped at all for 2 days. She will not dust bathe. Her crop is small, about the size of a golf ball maybe. It is quite 'moveable' within her chest and feels rather firm, but I don't want to squash her so I can't be sure. Two days ago I thought I saw a very small amount of liquid come from her mouth as I picked her up, but I'm not 100% sure on that as it was a bit dim in the coop. She is lethargic and looks plain miserable. She looks like she has lost her lust for life.

    Signs she is not sick: Eyes are clear, no mucous, no coughing, no sneezing, no swelling, no bleeding anywhere.

    So what have I done for her? She is in a separate pen within the regular coop, with water and some grit, grain and corn. She has a nest box with 3 plastic eggs in it, and I should have about 7 real eggs to give her today, if that is ok to do. I lift her out of the box twice a day to offer her food and water and stretch her legs. I have no access to medication, nor do I have any skills to help her. I took her outside briefly for fresh air but the other girls attacked her so ferociously and she ran back to the nest.

    Please, what can I do? I don't know if this is all just 'normal broody behaviour' or if she is sick as well. And I don't know how to help her in either case. I am just so worried for her and don't want to lose her.

    - Krista
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    From everything you describe...you have a broody hen on your hands. If you want her to continue, yes put those eggs under her tonight and just wait and see. She will either settle right in or she'll abandon them. Don't mistake her getting off the nest once or twice a day for a short period of time. She will be eating, drinking, and pooping the most gawd-awful poops, then it's back to the nest. Try to keep the others away from her, make sure she has water and feed nearby, but not so close that she doesn't have to 'get up' ..

    As for her plucking her feathers...broody! As far as her getting a little thin...broody! As far as her letting you pet her now where you couldn't before...broody!

    Let us know how it goes and keep us updated!!
     
  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    Thank you for responding so quickly [​IMG]

    I thought broody hens were meant to turn into vicious little fire ants? I am stunned that I am able to get within three feet of her, especially considering I've never been able to catch her before. I have 4 eggs now and am watching the other girls closely for more eggs today. If I get 6 or more together, will that be enough for her? She is not a massive bird.

    She has definitely NOT pooped though - she is penned in, so I think I would notice a big stinking broody poop in the corner, ha ha! How long can she last without pooping? I fear for her health!

    Can I ask another question, please? Does her crop sound 'normal' to you? I really have no idea what it should feel like.

    Thank you so much for your advice. I have followed some of your posts in the past and really appreciate your thoughtful recommendations and experience.

    - Krista
     
  4. kittykitty30

    kittykitty30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Her crop sounds exactly like my broody's. Your hen is fine. She will probably not poop in the corners but will most likely lay a stinker near her feeder and waterer. If you want, you can order hatching eggs for her to sit on. Be careful not to take her off her nest before she is ready; she won't be happy at all! Don't worry about entertaining her, broodies have their ways. Be careful reintegrating her when she finally leaves the nest; set her with the flock in the evening or at night so she isn't bullied up on and pecked to death.
    Also- she won't poop every day! She should wait two or three days before pooping (that's what mine is doing/has done).
    As long as she has a constant supply of fresh water and food she should be perfectly fine. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    What a relief. I honestly thought I was going to lose her. Thank you so much!

    I have 5 eggs ready now and expect another two by the end of the day, so I think I will give her those. We are pretty remote out here and postage is very slow, so I suspect if I ordered eggs she would starve to death in the wait!

    She has plenty of food and water close to hand, and a space about 5 feet long x 2.5 feet wide to walk about in, not that she wants to.

    I feel kind of bad that she has no-one to talk to all day (the others go out foraging) but to be honest they don't want to know her at the moment anyway, and she looks like she is in a weird trance. She has a wistful, far-away look on her face like she is not 'with us,' and doesn't acknowledge me when I speak to her. Normally she would be inquisitive with everything I do, following at a distance. She has no interest in anything but sitting now.

    Thank you again for your time. I'm sure I will have more questions to come in the next couple of weeks. If only one egg would hatch I would be so happy for her....

    - Krista
     
  6. kittykitty30

    kittykitty30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as the eggs are fertile then there is a 50/50 chance they will hatch. Good luck with her! Keep us updated! :D
     
  7. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Fire ants?? [​IMG] Not really! Don't get me wrong, some broodies can be "hell on wheels" but that is the exception to the rule. Generally broodies, when you approach them to check on her and the eggs will growl a little, fluff up her feathers at you, but that's generally about it. And yes her crop sounds normal. Be sure to put a mark on the eggs you put under her. Then start the official "countdown" ... keep us updated!!
     
  8. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: [​IMG] Yep!! That's a broody alright!!!
     
  9. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, gosh. Now that it looks like I'm going to become a Grandmother, I'm nervous! [​IMG]
     
  10. kittykitty30

    kittykitty30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm a proud grandmother of 25 (23 if our sick little ones don't make it) chicks and it feels wonderful! Just be careful integrating the chicks with the rest of the flock when they reach adulthood- death occurs often from pecking. If you want to be absolutely safe build another run for this batch; each life is priceless. Have fun with your chicks if they hatch and keep us updated!
     

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